Student Speaker Guidelines
January 25, 2013
Speech Submission Deadline
Friday, November 16, 2012
Office of Student Affairs
Boyden Hall, Room 106
|Each year a member of the undergraduate
graduating class is chosen to represent their class as the student
speaker at the Commencement Exercises.
Seniors who will graduate in
January 2013 are invited to become candidates for this distinctive honor.
|The essay must be:
- double-spaced on 8½ x 11 paper,
- approximately 5 minutes in delivery length,
- include a cover page with their name, address, telephone number,
e-mail and date of graduation.
* Do not include your
name or identifying information on the essay pages.
- Finalists will be invited to
present their essays as speeches to the committee. If
your speech is selected for final review, rehearse the
speech very thoroughly, giving careful attention to the
techniques you will use for effective delivery. Your
delivery, as well as content, will be considered in the
final selection of a commencement speaker.
- The essay will be evaluated
by members of a committee comprised of the following:
- College marshal
- Assistant vice president of Student
- A representative from the
- A faculty member from Communication
- A representative from Institutional
- Special events coordinator for
- Senior class president
- Student trustee or designees
- SGA President
- The candidate selected will be
required to meet with a faculty member in communication studies to
further develop the written speech and for coaching and practice in
the delivery of the speech.
|GENERAL GUIDELINES FOR SPEECH WRITING
Copies of recent speeches written by former student speakers are available for review at the Office of
The message from a member of
the graduating class traditionally falls before diplomas are presented.
It is suggested that you review
online copies of recent speeches written by former student
speakers to evaluate how the following guidelines were used to
develop an effective speech:.
- Make sure your speech meets the expectations of the audience; remind people of the event they are
commemorating. Commencement is ...one of the punctuation marks of your life [Gamble & Gamble].
Remember that you are speaking to both your classmates and the faculty, staff,
family and friends who have assembled to share this special
day. It is a time to relive shared golden moments [Osborn & Osborn], not bemoan the worlds inevitable
destruction [Beebe & Beebe].
- Use personal anecdotes and appropriate humor, but be aware that you are speaking for others as
well as yourself. Though the words you use
are your own and the feelings you express are sincere, you are speaking as a
representative of your class [Gamble & Gamble]. You
are speaking to reflect their sentiments. The
spotlight may seem to be on you, but your job is to refocus its beam on your classmates and
the commencement event.
- Avoid the clichés and words that every other speaker at commencement has used; make appropriate use
of metaphor. Choose vivid, colorful language; the words you select should arouse sensory
images and reflect the correct level of seriousness and formality of the occasion
[Ayres & Miller]. Be original, but remember that everything about your speech should be consistent with the tone of the ceremony.
- Be brief. Every word and phrase should be the right one, carefully chosen to bring about the desired emotional response [Ayers &
Miller]. Hanna and Gibson suggest that sincere, simple feelings are best.
- According to Whitman and Foster, a commencement speech generally addresses the following three topics:
- It offers congratulations. Parents, grandparents, friends, and relatives all need to be acknowledged.
They are proud of you and your classmates and appreciate being associated with your success.
- It reviews accomplishments. As members of the Class of
2012, what obstacles did you overcome?
What special characteristics have you exhibited? What are your significant accomplishments? These should be in sweeping
terms with specifics that could apply to members of the graduating class not just yourself.
- It issues a challenge. The word
commencement denotes a beginning. What does the future look like for
the Class of 2012, what are the problems that you will be called upon to address as you take your place in
society? What inspirational thoughts can you share which will assure your classmates that they are prepared
and ready to take up the challenge?
|Questions can be directed to Brian Salvaggio
or Gael DeIuliis at the Office of Student Affairs, Boyden Hall 106,
|Please remember to return your qualifying essay by the deadline date -
Friday, November 16, 2012 (January '13 Commencement) to the Office of Student Affairs, Boyden Hall
106. Speeches can also be sent electronically to